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Our favourite travel books - some great reads during the COVID-19 outbreak

So we are told to stay indoors when we can and practice physical distancing when we can during the COVID-19 outbreak. What better opportunity to read up on your favourite books. Here we list a dozen books we fell in love with over the years.

Theatre of Fish: Travels Through Newfoundland and Labrador - John Gimlette

Following in the footsteps of his forefather, Gimlette recounts his journey along the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the story of current inhabitants, descendants of last-hope Irishmen, navy deserters, outlaws and fishermen. It is a strange story of houses that can be dragged along or taken across the sea; of ancient eating habits; of being stuck in ice much of the year; of fishing villages with their own impromptu dramatics, the Mummers.

That summer in Sicily - Marlena de Blasi

De Blasi’ s marvelous storytelling, reminds us that in order to live a rich life, one must accept both life’s sorrow and its beauty. This is beautiful story will take you from Sicily’s remote mountains to chaotic post-war Palermo, from the intricacies of a forbidden love to the havoc wreaked by Sicily’s bewildering culture.

The Lost World of the Kalahari - Laurens Van Der Post

The distinguished explorer and writer retells his visits with the San, outcast survivors from Stone Age Africa. Faced with constant attack the last of the San have retreated to a remote corner of the Kalahari in Botswana. After a gruelling trek, van der Post finds them, thriving in one of the world’s most arid landscapes.

The Sheltering Desert - Henno Martin

Threatened with Internment during World War II, two German geologists, seek refuge in the Namib Desert and live a hermit-like existence for nearly three years. How they survived and what they did, thought and observed are the subject of tjos enigmatic book. In it lies the vastness of the landscape, nature's silence in the joy or suffering of her creatures, and the stillness in which the reader, too, may take refuge from the wrongs of civilization.

Arctic Dreams - Barry Lopez

A must read for travellers to the far north, Arctic Dreams is as much a beautiful work on the natural history as it is a meditation on how the landscape can influence our deepest desires, imaginations and dreams. A classic of modern literature, the prose is as pure as the landscape it is set in.

Shadow of the Silk Road - Colin Thubron

To travel the Silk Road, the legendary trading route through the heart of Asia, is to trace the passage of time, trade and armies but also of ideas, religions, and inventions. Travelling by all possible modes of transport the author covers over seven thousand miles in eight months. From the heart of ancient China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan (freshly liberated from the Taliban) and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey. Along the road he meets a cast of interesting characters and makes some amazing discoveries. This is travel writing at its finest.

Travels in Siberia - Ian Frazier

Like Russia, it took a while for this book to grow on me, but once it did I could not put it down. Travels in Siberia is a unique chronicle of Siberian Russia since the end of the Soviet Union, intertwined with captivating history and trivia.

From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East - William Dalrymple

In 587 a.d., two monks set off on an extraordinary journey that would take them in an arc across the entire Byzantine world, from the shores of the Bosphorus to the sand dunes of Egypt. On the way John Moschos and his pupil Sophronius the Sophist stayed in caves, monasteries, and remote hermitages, collecting the wisdom of the stylites and the desert fathers before their fragile world finally shattered under the great eruption of Islam. More than a thousand years later, using Moschos's writings as his guide, William Dalrymple sets off to retrace their footsteps and composes "an evensong for a dying civilization"

The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club - Marlena de Blasi

Every month on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There - along with their friend, Marlena - they cook, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk.

Here, surrounded by candle light, good food and friendship, they tell their life stories of loves lost and found, of aging and abandonment, of mafia grudges and family feuds, and of ingredients and recipes whose secrets have been passed down through the generations. Around this table, these five friends share their food and all that life has offered them - the good and the bad.

Adventure Coordinators verdict: saving the recipes for the kitchen, this is a wonderful read that will have you smile, cry and leave you hungry. 8 out of 10.

The Green Road Into the Trees: An Exploration of England - Hugh Thomson

Award-winning British travel writer Hugh Thomson explores the most exotic and foreign country of them all -- his own.

From the very centre of England Hugh travels to its outermost edges. The Green Road into the Trees is a journey made rich by the characters he meets along the way. And the ways he takes are the old ways, the drover-paths and tracks, the paths and ditches half covered by bramble and tunnelled by alder, beech and oak: the trails that can still be traced by those who know where to look. By taking a 400 mile journey along the Icknield Way, through both the sacred and profane landscapes of ancient England, Hugh casts unexpected light -- and humour -- on the way we live now.

The Fault Line: Traveling the Other Europe, From Finland to Ukraine Hardcover - Paolo Rumiz

Rarely have I read such an engaging book. I could not put it down, nor did I want it to end.

Paolo Rumiz traces the path that has twice cut Europe in two—first by the Iron Curtain and then by the artificial scaffolding of the EU—moving through vibrant cities and abandoned villages, some places still gloomy under the ghost of these imposing borders, some that have sought to erase all memory of it and jump with both feet into the West (if only the West would have them). In The Fault Line, he is a sublime and lively guide through these unfamiliar landscapes, piecing together an atlas that has been erased by modern states, delighting in the discovery of communities that were once engulfed by geopolitics then all but forgotten, until now. In this book I definitely heard "a familiar creaking sound. A window opening to a new journey." This book brims with the author's love for Eastern Europe, the raw beauty of its landscapes and the hospitality of its people.

Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania by William Blacker

When William Blacker first crossed the snow-bound passes of northern Romania, he stumbled upon an almost medieval world.

There, for many years he lived side by side with the country people, a life ruled by the slow cycle of the seasons, far away from the frantic rush of the modern world. In spring as the pear trees blossomed he ploughed with horses, in summer he scythed the hay meadows and in the freezing winters gathered wood by sleigh from the forest. From sheepfolds harried by wolves, to courting expeditions in the snow, he experienced the traditional way of life to the full, and became accepted into a community who treated him as one of their own. But Blacker was also intrigued by the Gypsies, those dark, foot-loose strangers of spell-binding allure who he saw passing through the village. Locals warned him to stay clear but he fell in love and there followed a bitter struggle.

Change is now coming to rural Romania, and William Blacker's adventures will soon be part of its history. From his early carefree days tramping the hills of Transylvania, to the book's poignant ending, Along the Enchanted Way transports us back to a magical country world most of us thought had vanished long ago.

Recommended by your fellow traveller Joey McArthur

Adventure Coordinators score: 9 out of 10. Simply loved this book and it already has me wanting to go back to explore more of this forgotten part of Europe.


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